Exploring the Link Between Bullying and Substance Abuse

Written by Chloe Nicosia

What is the Link Between Bullying and Substance Abuse and What Can you Do To Help?

Substance abuse, as with other mental disorders, does not have just one cause. The causes of substance abuse vary in each addict, ranging from genetic makeup to bullying. There is a link between bullying and substance abuse according to a study shown on the Stop Bullying government website. It was found that both bullies and the victims of bullies have a higher risk of having a substance abuse problem than their peers. Cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol are some of the most commonly abused substances in this group.

In this article, we will explore the connection between bullying and substance abuse and what you can do to help protect your child.

Link Between Bullying and Substance Abuse

While it is not clear what the exact causality of substance abuse is in bullying cases, it is clear that there is a link worth exploring. The link between bullying and substance abuse can be seen much like the link between substance abuse and forms of trauma. The emotional scaring caused by the act of bullying, especially when it happens on a regular basis, can create problems and anxiety that can be difficult to deal with. Adolescents may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to lessen the anxiety they feel, or in an effort to fit in with their peers so as not to be singled out.

In the case of a bully who is also bullied, they often experience the same anxiety as a non-bully victim and are more likely to be in situations where drugs and alcohol are available.

Cyber bullying and substance abuse is no different from bullying seen in our schools. It can cause the same level of emotional damage to a person and their reputation. As a result, cyber bullying and substance abuse are linked in the same way as school bullying and drug abuse.

What Are the Protective and Risk Factors?

With the connection between bullying and substance abuse, it is important to understand your child’s protective and risk factors. These can help you to put your focus on the things that will make a difference in your child’s life.

  • Peers – Many of us are aware of the influence peers have on a child’s growth and behavior. They can be a key part of healthy personal growth, but they can also be the causes of substance abuse when bullying is involved. Kids that engage with bullies or with other kids who abuse substances are more likely to get involved with substance abuse themselves. Getting involved with your child’s friends with some supervision can help to establish better friends for your child.
  • Family Involvement – In families where there is open communication, children find it easier to talk about problems. Consistent discipline can also help to make it clear which behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t.
  • Individual Traits – If parents are on the lookout for aggressive behavior in their child from an early age, it can help to prevent future drug abuse and bullying behavior. It can be an opportunity to reinforce their accomplishments and boost their self-esteem.
  • School Performance – A child’s performance in school can be an indication of problems, especially if it suddenly begins to change. Disinterest in school and poor academic performance can put a child at risk of substance abuse and be an indication of bullying.

By exploring the link between bullying and substance abuse, you can better understand what your child may be experiencing. If you require further information or need to find help for substance abuse, call Better Addiction Care today on (800) 429-7690.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487445/

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog/2013/01/29/what-do-bullying-and-youth-substance-use-have-common-more-you-might-think.html